Thursday, 11 August 2011

Risk (revised edition) on the iPhone

Plays: 4Px9 (against AI's)

The Game

A review of Risk? Is that necessary? Risk is a mass market game that many game hobbyists frown upon as something they have grown beyond a long time ago. In 2008 there was a revised edition released, and this is my experience with this revised edition. Well, actually my experience is based on an iPhone application called Dominion (not to be cofused with the deck-building game). It is supposedly very similar to Risk (Revised). I have not played the physical game, so I'm not 100% sure.

Most of the elements in old Risk are still in new Risk. On your turn you gain troops, place them, then attack. The dice rolling combat resolution remains the same. You also do one reinforcement at the end of your turn (move some soldiers from one territory to another connected territory).

Let's talk about some of the new stuff. The new winning condition makes a big difference. You need to achieve 3 objectives while holding your capitol. You pick your own capitol territory at the start of the game. A number of objectives are also randomly selected at the start. Objectives are in the nature of being first to achieve a certain condition, e.g. conquering 6 cities in one turn, controlling 20 territories, controlling a certain continent, and controlling two enemy capitols. Claiming an objective also gives some bonus, e.g. extra dice in battles, defense bonus. However on your turn you can at most claim one objective, and you will have to forfeit claiming the successful conquest token (which is accumulated to be exchanged for extra soldiers).

There are cities now, which give additional soldiers. The iPhone application also comes with multiple maps like Europe, Australia, even the Arctic circle.

The map of Europe. The icons on the left are the objectives and also the corresponding rewards.

This is the South East Asia map, but it actually covers most of Asia, including as far west as India and Pakistan, and as far north as Mongolia and Japan. I (green) have achieved three objectives, but have not won yet because my capitol (at the northern edge of the map) is being occupied by Blue.

This screen lets you easily see various useful information, like the number of territories controlled by each player, the number of cities, the number of soldiers, etc.

The Play

So far I've played a few games each on the classic world map, Europe map and South-East Asia map. Games are very quick. The interface is well done. I hide the die rolls to further speed things up. The AI's are so-so though. They come in different difficulty levels, but even at the hardest level they are not hard to beat. All my games have been 4-player games. One thing I'm thankful about is they didn't make the AI's harder by giving them bonuses or by handicapping the human player.

The objectives make a big change to the game. They give direction to the players. You need to think about which ones to go for and you need to plan. You also need to watch out for what your opponents may be trying to achieve, and try to stop them. The objectives let the game end when it is still interesting. The game does not drag on and on when things start to get tedious and it is less likely for players to get stuck in long boring stalemates.

The Thoughts

I think the revised version of Risk (assuming this iPhone app is a good representation) is a big improvement. It is still not a very deep game, so don't expect one and you won't be disappointed. It's not exactly simple, but simple enough for non-gamers and casual gamers to easily learn. It provides a decent multiplayer war game platform which allow for diplomacy, negotiations, alliances, backstabbing etc.

I like the objectives because they help to keep the game length reasonable and they give many interesting short-term goals to the players.

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